An editorial in CPM journal People’s Democracy has focused on the Lok Sabha polls beginning April 7, saying that they will be the “world’s largest democratic exercise”. It said that this election will have nearly a hundred million more voters than the last Lok Sabha election in 2009, making it a “gigantic exercise” for the country.
Sounding out a note of caution about the need to ensure free and fair polls, the editorial says the adequate deployment of observors “must be implemented scrupulously in order to prevent the large-scale intimidation of voters like… in the recent local body elections in the state of West Bengal”. It adds, “Though strictly the local body elections do not fall within the mandate of the EC, this experience should forewarn the EC to be extra vigilant. Further measures need to be taken to ensure that the spread of terror during the campaign period does not prevent voters from turning up to exercise their fundamental right due to fear.”
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Emphasising the importance of curbing the “increasing use of money power”, it argues that this must be given “sufficient and special attention”. “More stringent measures must be undertaken against tendencies like ‘paid news’, doctored opinion polls, etc. A level playing field must be provided for all,” it adds. It concludes the people will determine the outcome of the election “on the basis of who will provide them much-needed relief from the relentlessly growing economic burdens imposed on them.”
Elections and economy
The CPI, in its journal, the New Age Weekly, has also discussed the Lok Sabha polls, saying that they come at a time when the economy is in the “doldrums” and there is widespread “hunger, unemployment and sky-rocketing price rise”. “This has happened due to the shameless pursuance of the policies of neo-liberalism by successive governments,” it claims.
It adds that apart from trying to get a “more corporate subservient regime”, the “secular democratic fabric” of the nation is also being attacked. “In such a situation, the coming electoral battle is for protecting the economic sovereignty of the country, for alternative pro-people policies, development whose gains are shared by all segments of the population, for a regime that alters the disastrous economic course of neo-liberalism to which both the major bourgeois political parties — the BJP and Congress — are fully committed,” it adds.
The editorial also argues that with regional parties asserting their strength, the coalition era is here to stay. “There is a need to mobilise political parties, particularly the secular regional parties, to project an alternative to both the Congress-led UPA and the BJP-led NDA. This is the task that requires a strong Left Block in the next Lok Sabha. [The] Left can and has to undertake this task to save the country from economic disaster and to protect secular democracy,” it says.
The CPI(ML)’s ML Update says that, with Lok Sabha polls round the corner, the country is witnesseing “feverish political realignments” and politicians switching sides at “dizzying speed”. An editorial talks about Raj Thackeray’s support for the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi and says that, along with this and the Shiv Sena’s support, “Maharashtra’s might have been added to Gujarat’s fuel power” and they are both “arenas of corporate assertion”.
It criticises the 11-party non-Congress, non-BJP alternative, saying that recent realignments are “revealing the hallowness and insincerity of the ‘Third Front’ being peddled by the CPI and CPI(M)”, referring to the AIADMK’s decision of breaking off the alliance with the Left Front: “Clearly, such a Front cobbled together with parties without the slightest consistency or secular-democratic principles, cannot possibly offer any resistance to the BJP…”
Compiled by Ruhi Tewari